The force of the train rumbled the soil as it pushed into the mountain and back out of it again. And the bridge carried it out over the water, tight and patient, though the steel burned from the heat. In the shadows of the water below, the fish and turtles would not stop the work of living. The ferns in the wood stirred but the deer and the squirrel paused until the chugging storm passed.
Industry was the bumper crop of the clever and it seemed no drought could cause it to ebb. Far away in the steel towns, the women rose before the men that coffee and biscuits would be waiting. The day opened with pink Easterly light. Hours later the men came home in charcoal dusk, themselves as grey as the shadows cloaking their little brick houses. The pay of it made rent and food and sometimes clothes and less often shoes. Just the same each year, by December the cash became oranges and candy and gifts to anchor a wistful Christmas tree. Their sleep was so heavy it was often dreamless, but in the wakeful hours, their eyes strayed again and again to their little jam-sticky broods and something hopeful, something like Roosevelt seemed to think might work, kept them rising to grip the hours ahead. Everything they made, the train took away, but at the other end, there were people who needed it.